Yesterday’s fine-tuning of the federal cabinet by Prime Minister Stephen Harper had some welcome news and one serious disappointment. I’m pleased that former Global TV anchor Peter Kent got a promotion from minister of state for foreign affairs to the full cabinet post as environment minister. To be sure, his obvious communication skills will be well tested in this portfolio.
Diane Ablonczy, Calgary-Nose Hill MP, received only a minor boost to minister of state for the Americas—the post vacated by Kent. Isn’t it time Ablonczy stopped being punished for her decision to provide funding for the 2009 Toronto Pride Week Festival? I believe she deserves a more senior position at the cabinet table, she’s earned it. Nice to see, though, that she’s still in the picture, so to speak. Other good news was Ted Menzies, MP for Macleod in Alberta, being appointed to a cabinet-level post, minister of state for finance. This is a nice step up for Menzies from his former position as a parliamentary secretary. I like the way Menzies handles himself on TV when he’s trotted out to defend the Conservative’s party line.
The one sour note was the appointment of newly elected MP for Vaughan, Julian Fantino, to minister of state for seniors. It is too early to assess Fantino’s parliamentary abilities and a cabinet post of any kind seems premature. This shows the disdain in which our prime minister seems to hold seniors, an increasingly important group that tends to favour conservatism, but, apparently, not one the Tories think they need to woo.
Fantino’s inept performance as Ontario Provincial Police Commissioner during the illegal occupation at Caledonia remains a stain on his public record, and one that should have precluded any position higher than parliamentary secretary for, at least, a couple of years while he proves himself worthy of a seat at the cabinet table.
If Julian Fantino represents seniors as poorly as he enforced the law in Caledonia, I pity us all.